Battle of the Somme (Dir.Geoffrey Malins, 1916) (Screening format – not known, 77mins) The Battle of the Somme gave its 1916 audience an unprecedented insight into the realities of trench warfare, controversially including the depiction of dead and wounded soldiers. It shows scenes of the build-up to the infantry offensive including the massive preliminary bombardment, coverage of the first day of the battle (the bloodiest single day in Britain’s military history) and depictions of the small gains and massive costs of the attack. The Battle of the Somme remains one of the most successful British films ever made. It is estimated over 20 million tickets were sold in Great Britain in the first two months of release, and the film was distributed world-wide to demonstrate to allies and neutrals Britain’s commitment to the First World War. It is the source of many of that conflict’s most iconic images. It was made by British official cinematographers Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. Though it was not intended as a feature film, once the volume and quality of their footage had been seen in London, the British Topical Committee for War Films decided to compile a feature-length film. Find out more at Wikipedia With recorded soundtrack. John Peel Centre Cinema, Stowmarket, Suffolk. Link
Two Days (aka Dva Dnya) (Dir. Heorhii Stabovyi, 1927) + The Night Coachman (aka Nochnoj Izvozchik ) (Dir. Heorhii Tasin, 1928 ) (Screening format – not known, 60/54 mins) Two Days concentrates on a single 48-hour period during the Russian Revolution. The central character, played by Y. E. Samchykovski, is an old servant who staunchly supports the Royal Family. Even when his master is placed in prison and his son is appointed a commissar, the servant remains faithful to the Czarist regime. But when his village is invaded by the White Russian army tragedy makes him re-evaluate his position. Find out more at imdb.com . In The Night Coachman Hordii (image, left) the old coachman serves many rich passengers, including a number of officers of the Russian Volunteer army fighting against the Bolsheviks. One day he learns that his only daughter Katia is a member of the Bolshevik-Anarchist underground, and that she is hiding her comrade Borys, with whom she prints Bolshevik proclamations, in the attic. Wanting to protect his daughter from possible arrest, Hordii reveals Borys’ hiding place to the White Army officers but this has unintended consequences. Find out more at columbia.edu. Both of these newly restored Soviet Ukrainian thrillers feature men caught in the violent maelstrom of revolution and pushed to the brink by all sides. Produced under the auspices of VUFKU, the famous All-Ukrainian Photo-Film Administration, the films are notable for a masterful cinematography of chiaroscuro and a complex presentation of revolution devoid of triumphalism — but replete with dread. Presented as part of the Ninth Annual Cambridge Festival of Ukranian Film. Winstanley Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge. Link
Napoleon (Dir. Abel Gance, 1927) (Screening format – DCP, 332 mins) Gance’s epic biopic of Napoleon traces his career from his schooldays (where a snowball fight is staged like a military campaign), his flight from Corsica, through the French Revolution (where a real storm is intercut with a political storm) and the Terror, culminating in his triumphant invasion of Italy in 1797. The film ends here because it was intended to be part one of six, but Gance was unable to raise the money to make further episodes. The film’s legendary reputation is due to the astonishing range of techniques that Gance uses to tell his story ( including fast cutting, extensive close-ups, hand-held camera shots, location shooting, point of view shots, multiple camera set-ups, multiple exposure, superimposition and under water shots) culminating in the final twenty-minute triptych sequence, which alternates widescreen panoramas with complex multiple- image montages. This is the most complete version of the film available, compiled by Academy Award-winning film-maker, archivist and historian Kevin Brownlow who spent over 50 years tracking down surviving prints from archives around the world since he first saw a 9.5mm version as a schoolboy in 1954. Find out more at BFI and Wikipedia With recorded Carl Davies orchestral accompaniment. Picturehouse Cinemas in: Cambridge and Norwich Link
Nosferatu (F W Murnau, 1922) (Screening format – not known, 93mins) Based upon Bram Stoker’s Dracula, one of the most evocative texts in popular culture, FW Murnau’s 1922 film adaptation relocates the story from Transylvania to nineteenth-century Bremen. Max Schreck stars as the terrifying Count Orlock, who thirsts for the body and soul of a young clerk and his beautiful wife. Regarded as the first vampire film, Nosferatu is one of the most artistically original and masterfully ghoulish of the genre. Find out more at modernism.research.yale.edu With live musical accompaniment by Paul Robinson’s six piece HarmonieBand (featuring piano, clarinet, accordion, saxophone, percussion and cello). Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester, Essex Link
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